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Working at heights

Last updated April 2022

This chapter explains how to meet your legal obligation to minimise fall risks in your workplace.

What are the health and safety risks of working at heights?

Definition: Working at Heights

Working at heights refers to any circumstance in which a worker is exposed to the risk of a fall. A worker will be working at height if they are performing work above ground level or near a trench or pit.

Working at heights creates fall risks.

Definition: Fall Risk

A fall risk is any task that has the potential to result in workers injuring themselves by falling from a height.
Important: Under the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act), there is no minimum height for there to be a fall risk. The minimum height is 2 metres under Victorian legislation.
Caution: Fall risks have the potential to cause significant injury and even death.

According to a Safe Work Australia report, in 2019, 21 workers died as a result of a fall from a height. This is a slight increase from the 18 fatalities in 2018, but still lower than the 5-year average of 24 fatalities.

In 2019, 11% of all workers killed resulted from falls from height. It is the leading cause of death in the construction industry, being three times more common in construction than in any other industry.

Important: Working at heights can be dangerous to the worker performing work at height and anyone who is below them, as they are exposed to a risk of the worker or the worker’s equipment falling on them.